Genre: First Person Shooter
Publisher: CDV Software GmbH
Developer: Brat Designs
Release Date: March 23, 2004
Buy 'BREED': PC
Folks, I like you all way too much to lie to you. I sat down with Breed when I first got my copy, set the manual on my reading table (next to the toilet, of course) and started shooting away. I skipped the tutorials, for after all, I have played a few hundred FPS’s in my day. One more can’t be any different, right?
I first controlled a turret on a troopship and was told to take out a radar array. Piece of cake. It fell quicker than Ashton Kutcher’s jaw when he found out he could sleep with Demi Moore. We landed. My squad of mindless drones fell in step behind me, and did nothing while I killed 30 or 40 Breed. I kept advancing, and baddies kept falling. Then I ran into a gauntlet. Turrets above, troops below, and circling planes. No matter how hard I tried, no matter how many rounds I spent, there was no way to survive this. I tried the same assault for 45 minutes. I shut the game down, grabbed a sandwich and thought “What a nothing. More of the same old crap that looks and plays like UT2004, but with a learning curve that only a hyperactive 12-year old could muster.” I started crafting this review in my head, thinking of all the nasty things I could say.
Later that evening, my sandwich backed up on me, and I found myself in my “reading room”. ? Whilst in my agony, I began perusing the manual, and my eyes lit up! I had been playing the game the wrong way! I just stormed out of my dropship and started firing all willy-nilly. (Did I just use a word like “willy-nilly”?) Little did I know the depth of this shooter. How it is really a wonderful hybrid! I raced out to my PC and restarted from the very beginning…
The opening cutscene is quite witty. It put me in mind of the film “Starship Troopers”, in that it begins with a recruiting film for the USC, the United Space Corps. It promises free room and board, a free month of GRUNT Magazine, and the mandate to “Kill ‘Em All!” Interspersed with these cheesy, yet somehow retro-cool images, is perhaps the most honest Armed Services Recruitment Poster I have ever seen. It says “See the Galaxy TODAY!” “…and if you are lucky, tomorrow as well.” (Font sizes intentional) ?
The story is set in 2625, after an alien race suckered mankind into committing most of our troops and firepower to defending outworld colonies, while they out-flanked us and took over Earth. Sort of the intergalactic version of pointing to someone’s shirt, asking “What is that?”, then sliding your finger up to poke them in the nose. When the brave Grunts returned home victorious (or so they thought), their hero’s welcome became a living nightmare.
You control a squad of these Grunts (Genetically Revived UNiversal Tactical Sentient) trying to reclaim your homeworld from…The Breed.
Yes, initially this game looks and feels like most other shooters. Its futuristic look puts you immediately in mind of UT2004, but something looks different. The landscape is huge. You can see towers in the distance, hills and valleys just rife for ambushes, and very nice lighting. Yes, like UT2004, there are many drivable and flyable vehicles. And yes, the action is fast and crisp. But the differences end there.
Breed is cut more out of the mold of a Rainbow Six game in its execution than any mere Deathmatch. But it’s speeded up to the nth degree. Your squad can be commanded in numerous ways, and you have the ability to switch on the fly from one squad member to the next. And you will have to. Often.
Returning to the scene of my earlier massacre, the gauntlet, I ordered my squad to hide behind a large outcropping of rock and took control of my sniper. Her scope let me zoom in and take out the breed gunners manning (or would it be “breeding”) the turrets. I then switched to my Gunner, whose “Genocide Deluxe Rocket Launcher” took out the large tank blocking my way. Its demise took out a few of the breed’s ground troops, and then my squad (now commanded to “fire at will”) marched in to the valley and mopped up the rest.
It is these types of decisions you will be asked to make repeatedly if you are to regain control of Earth.
Again, I like you all too much to lie to you, so I will admit that I read a few other reviews of Breed. I usually shy away from this, but my initial misgivings made me curious. And I was interested to find that the game got a mostly 50/50 mix. This led me to believe that Breed is like computer programming itself: What you get out of it all depends on what you put into it. If you wish to lock your squad away in a vehicle and do it all yourself, you can. I will admit the enemy AI isn’t really up to snuff. In fact, it was vaguely reminiscent of the movements of the baddies in HALO. A lot of lateral rolls, some crouching, but a hell of a lot of dozens running at you at once, and easily taken down with a grenade launcher, or well-timed bursts of a minigun.
The vehicular combat is very cool, especially in the tanks where one can drive and fire while the other mans a turret and also fires. Even crippled tanks can occasionally have functional turrets.
The vehicle model falls to the ground (no pun intended) when it comes to the aerial side of the confrontation. While the control remains solid, the targeting leaves much to be desired. A simple key to cycle through targets would have been a godsend. I realize this isn’t an attempt to put a full-fledged flight sim into a shooter, but these little things can mean a lot.
As for level design, yes they are huge, but the mission structure they are built around is at times repetitive, and at times aimless. Waypoints on the map give you an idea of where you are supposed to go, but the reason for those moves can at times be very unclear.
The voice acting, while not the worst I have ever heard is a tad over the top for my taste. I don’t expect Shakespearean quality from a sci-fi video game, but come on guys, let’s hire some people who actually trained for this work.
Now the good stuff. I really do like the way Breed looks. The landscapes are impressive, and most of the scenery is destroyable. While this adds nothing to the gameplay, it is a nice touch of realism to see tree limbs sever and fall when you spray across them with an assault rifle. It’s cool as anything to take out towers and bridges from a long distance with a rocket launcher, follow the smoke trail toward the target, and watch as the structure crumbles against the crimson skyline. All these effects lend a great “Neat-O!” factor, but in the final analysis mean nothing.
I wish I could go on for another few paragraphs about how great the multiplayer aspect of Breed is, but at the moment, I can’t seem to find a server with anyone on it. When I am able to get into it online, I’ll file an addendum to this review.
I just re-read this review, and my lord, does it sound schizophrenic! But that’s exactly how I have felt about Breed from the get-go: It’s a game I hate loving, or a game I love to hate.
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